Technology is ubiquitous; and is everywhere in Henry County Public Schools. Not long ago when we spoke of technology in the school context, we were generally speaking about a computer lab visited by classes throughout the week for special projects. In the world using the Information Highway, instructional pedagogies have changed. Today, technology is an integral part of the instructional fabric of our school system where we are using the anywhere and anytime model. From the use of Interactive SMART Boards, class response systems, computers, student information systems, our School Messenger alert system, iPods, laptops, the Internet, email, sound-field amplification systems, flip cameras, cell phones, text messaging, creation stations, digital input technologies, and the list truly goes on and on, our transparent technology is used daily. We are pleased to be counted among the technology trend-setting school divisions across the state of Virginia and arguably the nation.
1:1 iPad initiative
Currently our school division has about 5000 iPads. And we are in our fourth year of our 1:1 implementation. Students in grades three, four, and five are 1:1 with digital textbooks loaded on their iPads. We began our initiative by purchasing an iPad for all third and fourth grade students during the 10/11 school years. At the beginning of 11/12 we added all fifth grade students. At the beginning of the 13/14 school years, we added sixth grade to the 1:1 initiative. All grade levels have access to carts of iPads to use during the instructional day. All other grade levels have access to carts of iPads to use during the instructional day.
As each challenge was met and conquered, the staff began noticing exemplary technology integration by all teachers including special needs teachers. Students at each school began displaying the same pedagogical characteristics. All students in a class were engaged and "tuned" into learning. Students explored whole and small group interactive discussions. Students could work independently and share information with classmates. It also became apparent that special needs students could not be "picked" out. These special needs students participated in classroom activities just like other students.
Teachers began to use the digital tablet to enhance and extend their lesson plan rather than teach a new one. Visitors watching the new teaching process did not intimidate teachers. Teachers used the new technology is such a transparent fashion that no additional technology lesson explanation was necessary.